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Pretrial Justice: Current Trends in Bail and Bail Reform

(907 reviews)

Produced on February 08, 2018

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Course Information

Time 1h 6m
Difficulty Beginner

Course Description

Jurisdictions around the country are reforming their bail systems to prevent individuals from being jailed solely because they cannot afford the bail that is set - seeking instead to base bail decisions on an individual’s actual risk of avoiding trial or endangering the public. These reforms are often premised on two policies: expanding a judge’s authority to deny bail altogether, in order to allow for “honest” detention, and relying on pretrial risk assessments to gauge an individual’s pretrial risk. Much of this reform has been galvanized by successful federal lawsuits challenging the use of “bail schedules” - predetermined bail amounts set according to a person’s charge - as a violation of the Supreme Court’s rule against wealth-based detention. In other places, budget shortages and jail overcrowding have made reducing pretrial detention a political and fiscal necessity. This moment has been christened the “Third Wave of Bail Reform” by people who have been active in criminal justice reform.

This program, presented by Brandon Buskey, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who coordinates the organization’s bail litigation, will explore the scale of pretrial detention in the United States, explain the basic constitutional parameters of pretrial release, and survey the most popular policy reforms being advanced in the Third Wave.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the causes and scale of pretrial detention in the United States
  2. Discuss the history, purpose, and law of bail, particularly with respect to Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments
  3. Review the legal and policy implications of preventive detention and risk assessments as bail reform measures

Credit Information

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Brandon Buskey

American Civil Liberties Union

Brandon has been with the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project since 2012. His work focuses on reforming pretrial justice, expanding the right to counsel, juvenile sentencing, and residency restrictions for former sexual offenders. Prior to the ACLU, Brandon worked at the Equal Justice Initiative and the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office. He is a 2006 graduate of New York University Law School, where he was a Root-Tilden Kern and AnBryce Scholar. Following law school he clerked for the Honorable Janet C. Hall of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.


M. Malaika R.

Great course! Great instructor!

Brittany F.

Very informative class

Steven M.

Instructor was very knowledgeable. Thank you.

Bethanni F.

Interesting information concerning creation of a public defender system in the south as a result of lawsuit filed by ACLU over issue of bail setting.

Britton A.

The teacher was great and very interesting to watch.

Brian W.

This course gave me great insight to the bail system and arguments to be made by abusive judges.

Robert P.


Celeste K.


Linda K.

Fantastic presentation. Some really compelling statistics to show that we need to improve the system.

Angela A.

This is the best CLE I've seen this year. The presentation was extremely well organized, the transitions were great, and the subtopics were each given the perfect amount of attention so that nothing became boring nor was anything left under-explained. The speaker held my attention, and peaked my curiosity to study more.

Jay G.

EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT EXCELENT!!!!! Great presentation, very knowledgeable speaker and a very timely and useful topic. Would like to see any other presentations by him.

Wendy S.

Important and informative.

William T.

Excellent summary of an issue that deserves greater attention.

Teresa B.

The presenter was exceptional. The material was eye-opening.

Jerry L G.

Thank you.

Elsbeth P.

Interesting topic, good information and speaker

Christopher B.

Excellent grasp of detailed material with a great presentation; thank you!

Wiliam R.

Instructor, Brandon Buskey, of the ACLU, delivered a very fluent and substantive presentation, which was quite informative.

Myra M.

Very informative; excellent speaker.

Anthony G.

Good presentation. Would like more CLE focused on trends in criminal law.

elaine o.

This was the best, most informative, practical course I have taken on lawline. Thank you for all the helpful info on bail reform.

Mattie A.


Melvin P.

Presenter was terrific, he really broke down some elements of the bail system I didn't understand.

David C.

Superb job. Every lawyer should listen and join the bail reform effort.

Robbin C.

Well presented and informative.

Gregory L.

Informative presentation.

Teresa W.

Informative and interesting.

Alan S.

Done well.

David C.

material that I knew but the updates were very informative and helpful

Stephen T.

Thorough and informative.

Wanda L.

Very relevant topic

Alan B.

Highly recommended

Tania G.

Excellente speaker

Greg H.

As a former defense attorney, I like to keep abreast of trends and changes in this area of the law. The perspective and insight of the ACLU is always quality

Sandra D.

Very good presentation on a timely subject. BTW, Arizona is working on some bail reform legislation. The Arizona Supreme Court Justice is championing Fair Justice for All reforms which include this.

Vera M.

This was my first experience with lawline, a free course pffering. I have a few questions, but overall I enjoyed the course. Thank you for allowing me to sample your format. That was very helpful.

Lisa F.

Excellent presenter

Jenifer F.

Very informative!

Sarah M.

Excellent overview of the topic

Linus W.

very knowledgeable presenter

Amy B.

Presenter was very well spoken

Melissa W.

This was by far the most prepared, professional, and comprehensive instructor I've had since joining Lawline. I used to prosecute criminal cases in NC and he nailed everything I would expect for this topic, and more. I'll take any course he teaches.

Dennis G.

Very relevant as we are engaged in the process of evaluating our pretrial release practices countywide.

G. Christine P.

He was terrific!!

Diane H.

Excellent speaker

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